WALKING IN BOWLAND:
Keen fell walker and historian Andrew Stachulski takes us on a scenic walk around Slaidburn
Distance: 7 miles
OS 1:50,000 no.103 (Blackburn and Burnley)
OS 1:25,000 no.41 (Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale)
The village of Slaidburn, beautifully situated in the upper Hodder valley, is an ideal starting point for the walker and the explorer. For those who wish to explore the village itself, the locally produced booklet ‘Slaidburn: A Walk Through the Village’ is strongly recommended (contact the Slaidburn archive www.slaidburnarchive.org for a copy).
For those wishing to roam further, a splendid array of walks is possible – short, medium and long. This walk, of about seven miles, takes you initially down the delightful Hodder valley, followed by a gentle climb of the lower slopes of Waddington Fell, then a return through isolated settlements, eventually via Easington. Views are excellent throughout.
From the main village car park, turn initially right, then cross the road and pass to the left of the village hall. Climb slightly up the riverbank, then reach a division of paths – go straight ahead, crossing fields, then enter the grounds of St Andrew’s parish church – which should certainly be visited, now or later. Pass through and go down steps to the road, then turn left. Views of the north side of Waddington Fell are already impressive. When the road turns right and uphill, keep on down a rough track by the old Dunnow lodge. Keep straight on, passing a sewage farm, then follow field paths by the river with a striking wooded cliff on your right. This section may be wet, even waterlogged, after a rainy spell.
Keep close to the river, crossing a stile at one point, and emerge onto the B road again at Newton Bridge. Cross the bridge, and immediately turn right through a gate, following another delightful stretch of the Hodder downstream.
Watch for a stile in the wall on the left presently – easily missed – then cross and continue downstream. Where the river bends right, climb gently up the fields on your left. Before long you emerge by a stile onto a minor road, almost immediately, go left up the farm lane towards Gibbs, which you pass to its left.
Climb steadily through the field ahead, turning left with the fence, and after passing through two gates you meet a rough track serving local farms. From this modest elevation the view is already excellent, with Penyghent visible to the north north east. Two extended walks offer themselves at this point: you may decide to explore the interesting rugged summit of Crag Stones, or go up the valley of the fine stream, Smelt Mill Clough, just to the south, passing initially through woodland. Consult the 1:25,000 map! In either case you should eventually meet the main route ahead where it joins the Waddington Fell B road. On the main route, simply follow the rough lane left, passing New Laithe and meeting the aforementioned B road in about half a mile.
Turn left briefly with the road, but turn off right shortly along another lane serving the superbly situated farm of Smelfthwaites, dating from 1688. Just before reaching the farm, turn left downhill through a gate and descend with a lovely panorama of valley and fells ahead. You pass the splendidly restored buildings at Meanley – keep on and soon reach a minor road. Turn right here, following the road to Easington with another fine stream, Easington Brook, on your right. Easington is a proud independent settlement, mentioned in the Domesday Book.
From here, the simplest route is to follow the road, but it is pleasanter to keep company with the stream, which you may reach by turning down past the manor house to the right of the road. Follow the stream roughly north east until you reach Broadhead Farm, then observe signs and turn left to return to the minor road at a cattle grid, point (719524). Go straight across, following a path by a wall, then go through a gate on the left and turn right again, still following a well-used track. Pass through a little dip with a stream, then climb stone steps in a wall ahead by a gate and turn left.
Traverse another shallow depression, with a copse nearby on your left, then trend more to the right over a slight rise on an increasingly clear path with Slaidburn now clearly in view. Drop down to a gate, which admits you onto the B6478 (take care) and simply follow the road back to the village. You pass through a sharp hairpin, then cross the fine bridge over the Hodder with the village green on your left and an attractive confluence between the Hodder and Croasdale Beck to the right. If you’re desperate for the village café, do make sure you’re back before 5pm. A delightful walk at any time of year, with glorious views, perhaps at its best when you return late in the day with soft twilight all around.